Tuesday 2 October 2012Call for an international convention for older people
Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, has marked the International day of older persons by calling on the Australian government to support the drafting of a new international Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.
“While taking part in the recent UN meeting on the rights of older people, I became convinced by a number of UN member states that the process of developing a new convention would be of practical value to the world's older people,” Commissioner Ryan said. “It would make a difference to those many millions living in precarious circumstances in countries that do not have welfare safety nets.”.
Commissioner Ryan has written to the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, making the case for Australia’s support for this ‘important and timely international development’.
“Despite the prevalence of age discrimination and the continuing challenges of improving services for older people, Australians fare much better in old age that many older people around the world, including in the Asia Pacific region,” Commissioner Ryan said.
“In too many places, old age means poverty, homelessness, untreated illness and violent abuse.”
Ms Ryan said that active official support for a new convention to protect older people would enhance Australia’s standing as a good international citizen and encourage our near neighbours, Indonesia and Malaysia, who are already calling for the convention.
“Australia’s participation in the UN discussions about older people has been well received,” Commissioner Ryan said. “My presentation at the UN, as Australia’s Age Discrimination Commissioner, prompted much interest and helped position Australia as an international leader in respecting and advancing the rights of older people.”
“In contrast with many countries around the world, older people in Australia benefit from the protections of the Age Discrimination Act 2004, government initiatives in aged care and assistance for older workers, as well as the Age pension, public hospitals, Medicare and publicly funded aged care facilities.”
“Strong sector groups like National Seniors and COTA provide effective advocacy for a wide range of seniors’ needs.”
Commissioner Ryan said the International Day of Older Persons provides the right opportunity to promote the importance of a new UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.